I made the top round of a leg of lamb tonight...local meat purchased @ whole foods...Roasted it and all in all found it STINKY (i.e. super gamey). Not to my liking at all (i'm a lamb fan & a leg o lamb fan at that). Any ideas why some lamb is funkier then others? How can I prevent this from happening again?



Food O. November 9, 2010
I grew up on a farm, and we raised several sheep for wool. They were pasture raised and we butchered and processed the meat on the farm. The lamb always smelled and tasted funky to me! To this day I can't stand lamb. I had no idea that there was another option out there. Thanks for this Q&A, perhaps I'll give it another go.
sixelagogo November 9, 2010
Some more info:
I cooked the lamb to 135 and let it rest till the internal temp came up to 140-142...it was medium rare on the inside

I choose the "local" lamb over new zealand, as I assumed it would be fresher

I did contact whole foods, but have not received an answer yet
anyone November 8, 2010
@mainecook61, What an animal grazed on can effect the flavor ( ever have grass fed beef) Although you list yourself an experienced farmer your admission of ignorance by giving your answer is astounding.
mainecook61 November 8, 2010
I doubt it was what the lamb grazed on or even the cooking or breed of animal. If it was locally raised lamb intended for meat (and not older lamb, aka mutton, another possibility), the problem may not be the producer but the slaughtering facility that killed, chilled, cut, and packaged the lamb. Most producers do not do their own slaughtering (we raise beef, chickens, and ducks, but we don't butcher them ourselves). If Whole Foods sold it, it would have to have been a USDA inspected facility, but that certainly doesn't mean no errors could occur. There aren't enough inspectors to go around, as all the food scares have illustrated. I'd let Whole Foods know and I'd hope they'd let the producer know.
anyone November 8, 2010
It's the the location where they were raised and what they eat. Also some packaging uses heat before cooling and can make the meat smell funky that can translate to ttheflavor. Nothing else that's it!
Ozark H. November 8, 2010
Pierino, I think whether one might try to substitute goat kid for lamb is a regional issue. You can find tons more goats here in Arkansas than sheep. Goats were such a big fad that you can now find them free on Freecycle.

That aside, I think the variety is the most likely problem, like I said first.
pierino November 8, 2010
The odds on someone subbing goat for lamb are extremely thin. So thin, that I actually have to seek out places that do sell goat. I like it for Portugese cabrito or Mexican birria. But you already know that it's going to be gamey. If you want that...and sometimes I do.
Ozark H. November 8, 2010
These are all decent answers, but I think I can offer a better one, with a scientific basis. Lamb varies a lot because sheep vary a lot. Some sheep are wool sheep; their natural lanolin is actually quite stinky, and that odor will permeate the flesh. Chances are you got a wool sheep. You want a sheep designed for milking and eating, like Katahdin. You'll be delighted at how little gaminess they have,
For more information on Katahdin, see here:
I don't usually eat red meat but have found super Katahdin lamb through my Locally Grown network: http://locallygrown.net/
If you're not familiar with how Locally Grown works, I include an explanation here: http://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/locally-grown-market-networks-a-wonderful-variation-on-csas/

Finally, there's a chance that your supplier cheated and gave you a goat kid instead of lamb. I'm betting your average home chef wouldn't know the difference from appearance, but goat is extremely gamey.
Midge November 8, 2010
Maybe it has something to do with how old the lamb was when it was slaughtered? I would definitely let Whole Foods know the deal. They've been very accommodating when I've been unhappy with their meat in the past, i.e., replaced it. I think this is why my mom maintains that you should always make friends with your butcher.
Rachel R. November 8, 2010
Well, if it was local lamb like like you say, the whole shipping issue is moot. My guess is that a combination of over cooking and it being a sort of stinky lamb to begin with. I've noticed some farm's lamb can be kind of funky/extra gamey while other local lamb never is. Perhaps it has to do with their diet?
pierino November 8, 2010
The sad truth per Geepers comment, is that maybe up to 75% of the lamb sold in supermarkets in this country is farmed down in the antipodes, vac-packed and shipped over here. Hello, Costco! But there is a counter-revolution going on, we are just going to have to be patient. I'm fortunate in that I live in lamb country. I have in fact asked at Whole Foods, and got the answer "Australia". But it gets worse, your shrimp probably come from China. Always ask.
Geepers November 7, 2010
Lamb is best cooked by beef terms to "medium" -- if its cooked through it gets gamey. If you want to try again reduce the cooking time bit by bit until you get it right.
I like the other posters answer but "fresher" doesn't exist in the United States unless you have direct contact with a farmer. You can try local farmers markets for better lamb than you will get at a chain, and go for organic too. American meat standards allow for chemcial baths that might be part of the problem.
pierino November 7, 2010
Singing to the choir here, baby. That's happened to me too. It's because the lamb was more than likely shipped in from either New Zealand or Australia. You can buy a better, fresher domestic product if you ask before you purchase. A few weeks back I went to a local butcher (there are still some out there) to buy fresh lamb. I picked up two big pieces of locally farmed lamb shoulder. When I opened the package it smelled like LAMB. So ask where it's coming from.
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